'Yes We Can' is a Powerful Mantra For Women with Breast Cancer

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • One year ago, when President-elect Barack Obama spoke to supporters in Nashua, New Hampshire after losing that state’s first-in-the-nation Democratic primary to Sen. Hillary Clinton, little did I realize that the stirring speech I heard on that cold New Hampshire night would go down in history. That its closing words would become a national mantra; a phrase that, on the eve of our new President’s inauguration, rings again in my ears, and sings in my heart:

    Yes we can.

    Listening to our new President’s speech once again, I realize that many of his words relate directly to our experience with cancer. Cancer is trying to destroy us, just like economic crisis, wars, and a loss of hope have been trying to destroy America.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    But I believe President Obama will mobilize us to work together towards a new and better country. And I believe that together, we sisters in survivorship will build new and better lives for ourselves, and for our families and friends.

    Today, as a new day in America is about to dawn, let’s listen again to parts of that landmark speech. And understand how it relates to us not only as Americans, but as cancer survivors.

    We knew our climb would be steep…

    When the doctor told us we had cancer, and outlined our treatment plan, we did know our climb would be steep. Surgery, chemo, radiation, drugs, pain, fear, uncertainty… that’s a rocky path. But with the help of many, and our own strength, we can navigate that path back to health.


    Yes we can.

    When men and women… come out in the snows of January to wait in lines that stretch block after block because they believe…

    When we travel to the hospital every day for six weeks… When we take drugs that make us vomit… When we choose to cut off our breasts… It’s because we believe. We believe that we can beat cancer.


    Yes we can.

    Whether we are rich or poor, black or white, Latino or Asian, whether we hale from Iowa or New Hampshire or Nevada or South Carolina, we are ready… 

    Whoever we are, wherever we live, our spirit is strong. We are ready to fight the battle, to win the war. To defeat this cancer that’s in us.


    Yes we can.


    You… all who put so much heart and soul and work into this campaign… Democrats, Independents, and Republicans… If we mobilize our voices… to challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there is no problem we cannot solve. There is no destiny we cannot fulfill.

    We go to our jobs every day. We feed our families, help with homework, volunteer at the homeless shelter, support the team. We put our heart and soul and work into our everyday lives while dealing with cancer. And we know that there’s no problem we cannot solve; no destiny we cannot fulfill, including the most important one of all: beating cancer and living our lives fully. Simply being there, for family and friends.  


    Yes we can.


    We know the battle ahead will be long. We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics… We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

  • Sometimes the odds against us seem steep. Cancer is back. It’s in our bones. Our brain. The battle ahead will be long. Well-meaning friends may warn us against harboring false hope. But there has never been anything false about hope: as we wait for a cure, we can hold hope in our hearts.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    Yes we can.


    For when we have faced down impossible odds… When we’ve been told we’re not ready or that we shouldn’t try or that we can’t, generations have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. Yes we can. Yes we can.

    When we face down impossible odds, after we’ve been told that we can’t… When we intensify the chemo, enroll in a clinical trial, go for that extra treatment, we’re responding with a simple creed, a human creed that sums up the spirit of we sisters in survivorhood.


    Yes we can.

    Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can.

    Yes, we can heal our bodies. Yes, we can repair our spirits.


    Yes we can.

    We are one people. We are one nation. And together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea: Yes we can. 

    We are one sisterhood. And together, we will move over and through and past cancer with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea:



    P.S. For those of you who will respond to this post in hatred, as you often do when I mention President-elect Obama, I say this: bitterness and anger will eat away at you like a cancer. And I know how cancer can destroy a person, body and soul.

    I didn’t choose to have cancer; but you can choose to harbor hatred in your heart. Or you can choose, instead, to embrace love and acceptance. To move forward with your fellow countrymen, leaving division behind and building a new and better world for our children, and for generations to come. You can make a positive choice.


    Yes you can.

Published On: January 17, 2009